Yet, like all those other Glasgow neighbourhoods which are compelled to suffer the judgment of the ignorant – Possilpark, Maryhill, Govan, Sighthill – there are beautiful locations in Easterhouse and resourceful people if you care to look.

Provan Hall is one of these places. For generations of Easterhouse children its ruins and parkland were an oasis and a haven. Before Glasgow’s delinquent planners drove their motorway through the city’s north-eastern communities Provan Hall and its park formed the gateway to acres of woodland. My dad’s family was one of thousands who were decanted here in the 1960s and my cousins would often bring me to these woods.

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Given Easterhouse’s gnarly reputation for gang violence you might have thought that what remained of this old mansion house would soon have been levelled. Instead though, it was cherished by both young and old as a den for childhood adventures and an al fresco drinking emporium serving the local commotion lotion.

A remarkable £3.5m refurbishment has restored Provan Hall to its 15th century glory when it was built as a hunting lodge for the bishops of Glasgow, before one of the prelates sold it to his brother in an act of pre-reformation ecclesiastical capitalism. These men were required to take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience but many of them deferred only to money while passing on the other two.

Yesterday, Glasgow City Council formally handed over the keys of the old house to Provan Hall Management Trust which will run it as both a community hub and an attraction which is already beginning to draw interest from around the world.

Once, the only sparkled spirits to be found here were those belonging to Messrs Walker, McEwan, Tennent and Guinness. In recent years though, it has hosted groups of international paranormal investigators for whom Provan Hall is a mecca for phantasms. It’s reckoned that this place is the most haunted building in the West of Scotland.

The Herald: Provan Hall is to reopen after renovations for Glasgow Doors Open DayProvan Hall is to reopen after renovations for Glasgow Doors Open Day (Image: Gordon Terris)

Christine Pont, Operations Officer for the Provan Hall Management Trust tells me that if I’d been here a bit earlier I might even have met a couple of them. “I swear to you,” she tells me, “but just the other week both me and one of my colleagues clearly heard children’s laughter coming from outside, yet not a soul was there.”

“At least they were enjoying themselves,” I tell her. “And anyway, I wouldn’t have wanted to scare them off.”  

Local councillor, Ruairi Kelly, Glasgow’s Convener for Neighbourhood Services and Assets, was the man handing over the keys. “It’s fitting that this little ceremony is about a building which can stake a solid claim to being Glasgow’s oldest house and a rare surviving part of Glasgow’s medieval past.

“It surprises many who are unfamiliar with Easterhouse that not only is it steeped in history with a rich cultural heritage but that it’s also a place teeming with nature.

“When I became councillor in 2017 I became part of a group committed to unlocking the energy, the spirit and the creativity within Glasgow’s communities.”

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It’s become fashionable this year to denigrate the run-down aspect of some parts of the city centre. And I stand guilty as charged. The art school infernos and the changing nature of retail have left Sauchiehall Street, the once grand dame of Glasgow shopping, looking careworn and decrepit.

Yet, in those communities beyond the smart emporiums where the critics rarely venture a re-awakening is slowly happening: Greyfriars Garden on the High Street; The Sighthill Bridge and Canal development; the Glasgow Meat Market down near Parkhead; the gradual re-kindling of old Govan; the Gorbals housing revolution.

The Provan Hall refurbishment is perhaps the grandest of them all. To a previous generation the nearby Hogganfield Loch was a source of fierce local pride and not a little urban legend. Enterprising Glasgow taxi drivers re-imagined it as Loch Lomond for the benefit of drunk American tourists.

Now though, after the most creative marketing makeover in the natural history of Scotland, Hogganfield Loch is now Hogganfield Park which, along with Provan House forms the centrepiece of the Seven Lochs Urban Heritage and Nature Park, stretching east towards Coatbridge and Stepps.

Here there be “ancient lochs, woodland walks, a wealth of wildlife and more than 10,000 years of history” according to the website brimming with West of Scotland swagger. 

Trustee Peter Mortimer is expert in the local history of this area. “The Easterhouse community has bought into this development,” he said. “It’s always been theirs and there’s an intense community pride in it.

“Like other old places in many of Glasgow’s working-class neighbourhoods it had always been cherished as a community resource. This refurbishment is their reward.”

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